You’re sitting in the office and pounding out cold calls because your awesome sales manager said “you have to make at least 100 calls per week.” Fantastic!!!! No one told you about the activity levels expected of you when you were first hired, and if they did, they most likely forgot to mention all the rejection that comes with it. Now, I agree that the more people you meet with, the higher the chances of closing more business. However, if you’re constantly being rejected on the phones and losing deals to your competitors, the notion of “sales is a numbers game” simply will not work for you. Doing more of the wrong thing will not increase your sales.
So here you are on your journey to sales success and your company issues to you a “sales script” or a “talk track.” How wonderful! Now you’re all set to call, read the script and secure all the appointments in the world, right? Unfortunately not!!! If you are able to get the person on the phone, what is the actual chance they will say “yes” to meeting with you on a cold call? The answer is slim to none.
Early in my career, I was fortunate to have the people skills and no shame to beg for a meeting once I had a potential client on the phone, and I begged! Unfortunately, most sales reps these days, who are being measured by their activity levels, simply hang up after hearing the first NO. It’s as if they’re more interested in hanging up the phone so they can add another call to their weekly numbers.
Focusing on sales activity verses developing a sales process with strategic customer outreach and relationship building initiatives will only get your sales people more of the same… REJECTION! How many times do you hear “not interested” or “send me some information” before you change what you’re doing? In reality, since “sales is a numbers game” is drilled in the rep’s mind, they rarely ever change what they’re doing and continue down the path of more (wrong) activities.
No one stops to think that your competitors, all 300 of them, are calling your clients with the same old “sales pitch” as you are. Everyone is saying “we can save you money” or “streamline your business processes” or that they’re a consultant!!! Give me a break! Do you really believe that people who you’re calling on went into business to save money? I highly doubt that! Then why are you saying it? Why not take the time to research the company, the industry, the person you’re calling, and their competition before making the call? How much stronger would the conversation be if you were educated with the clients’ challenges, initiatives, and plans for growth?
Instead of “Hi, can you please tell me who handles (whatever it is you’re selling), I specialize in helping companies like yours…” Sound familiar? What if you called and said “Hi Mike, I recently read a study about (something important to Mike) and have an idea on how you can attract more clients or increase your revenues.” How do you think Mike will receive that? So why don’t more sales reps take time on the front end to research? Because researching takes time away from making the cold calling and they will be disciplined for not making the 100 calls. I wonder if the sales leaders in charge would be able to sustain the activity levels they expect of their reps. My bet is they couldn’t and most of all, wouldn’t want to.
If you’re a sales leader, it’s your duty to develop your sales team to be the best in the market place. It’s up to you to challenge them to differentiate themselves from their competition and provide them with ways to do so. Now the question becomes, how are you growing yourself as a sales leader? What books are you reading? What sales classes are you attending? With the power of social media, the strategies of sales are ever-changing and it’s unrealistic to think that the old ways of “pounding” the phones will work the same way today. For your team to improve, you must improve!
The last thing I’ll mention is that if you are one of the leaders who solely focuses on activity levels, most likely, your turnover is higher than you like. What are you doing to change that? People don’t want to work for “spreadsheet” managers. They all want to be valued and feel like their leader is investing time in their growth. If you want to strengthen your sales team, invest time in each and every rep and treat them all differently. After all, they’re all unique in their own special ways.